Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises’ Ocean Fund has awarded marine conservation grants totaling $800,000 to 19 marine conservation and environmental organizations.  The nonprofit organizations, which originate from 17 different cities and four countries, received grants ranging from $15,000 to $60,000.

On Monday, March 3, representatives from all the organizations attended a networking reception at the Shake-A-Leg Miami’s eco-island in Biscayne Bay, Fla., where they met their peers, discussed ongoing projects and spoke with company executives.  The following day, at a luncheon, Dan Hanrahan, president of Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises, and Adam Goldstein, president of Royal Caribbean International, recognized each recipient and gave them their grants.

Since the fund’s beginning in 1996, almost $10 million has been awarded to more than 60 nonprofit organizations working to protect the marine environment. The mission of the Ocean Fund is to support efforts to restore and maintain a healthy marine environment, minimize the impact of human activity on this environment, and promote awareness of ocean and coastal issues and respect for marine life.

“Clean oceans are good for the environment, good for our guests, and good for our business,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.  “We are indebted to our 2008 Ocean Fund grant recipients for their work in preserving the world’s oceans through research, education and developing innovative technologies.”
The 2008 Ocean Fund grant recipients are:

Audubon of Florida (Miami, Fla.): $35,000 for a population and breeding distribution analysis of the reddish egret.

Blue Ocean Institute (East Norwich, N.Y.): $50,000 for research activities to conserve Pacific leatherbacks; to prepare a business plan for recovery; and to establish a new conservation fund.
Conservation International (Arlington, Va.): $60,000 for its Climate and Biodiversity Initiative, which will create regional strategies to address the impacts of climate change on marine biodiversity.

El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (Quintana Roo, Mexico): $33,000 to develop reef management strategies for reef lagoons in the Mexican Caribbean. Galapagos Conservancy (Falls Church, Va.): $30,000 for an ecosystem-level analysis of the Galapagos Marine Reserve to study overfishing impacts, and make recommendations for fisheries management. Island Dolphin Care (Key Largo, Fla.): $15,000 for enclosing the new marine science hut and outfitting it with audiovisual equipment for teaching, as well as maintenance and supplies for its eight aquariums.
Marine Mammal Care Center (San Pedro, Calif.): $30,000 for upgrading the water filtration system to aid with the rehabilitation of sick, injured and orphaned marine mammals.
Marine Stewardship Council (London, United Kingdom): $50,000 to install zoo exhibits to raise awareness of threats to ocean ecosystems, and drive consumer demand for sustainable seafood.

Massachusetts Maritime Academy (Buzzards Bay, Mass.): $25,000 to underwrite cooperative education stipends to train potential future maritime safety and environmental officers.
MAST Academy (Miami, Fla.): $21,000 to create educational DVDs about Everglades and Wakodahatchee wetlands bird groups for the school's mobile marine science lab program and related field trips.

The Nature Conservancy: $40,000 to conduct inventory and ecological assessment of estuaries, salt-marsh wetlands, and coastal marine habitats, and prioritize areas for conservation in southeast Alaska; and $40,000 for communicating the results of their Florida Reef Resilience Program to South Florida and Caribbean reef management, science and user communities.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (British Columbia region, Canada): $40,000 to create an atlas of ecological values and human uses of marine areas of British Columbia.

New England Aquarium (Boston, Mass.): $29,000 to support the annual meeting of the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium; research in Canada’s Bay of Fundy, and Web hosting for the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog.

Seattle Aquarium (Seattle, Wash.): $50,000 to update its long-term Sixgill Shark Population Ecology project with the latest research, and update the exhibit video.
Shake-A-Leg Foundation (Miami, Fla.): $50,000 for continued support for the eco-island project to provide educational, recreational, and island restoration activities for students with disabilities and at-risk youth.

University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science (Miami, Fla.): $52,000 for continued support of the Royal Caribbean Fellowship Program to support two incoming graduate students.

University of North Carolina (Wilmington, N.C.): $50,000 to buy equipment to support coral restoration research missions and surface-based science diving in coordination with the Aquarius undersea laboratory in Key Largo, Fla.

University of Oregon (Eugene, Ore.): $50,000 for the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, to expand and renovate its Marine Mammal Gallery at the new Charleston Marine Life Center.
World Wildlife Fund (Washington, D.C.): – $50,000 for continued support of the Smart Gear initiative, to reduce the bycatch of endangered marine species by encouraging the development of innovative, practical and cost-effective fishing technologies.